The fear of the Lord
We live in an era where the fear of the Lord, in or out of church, is at an all-time low. A healthy fear of God is needed to keep us and the Church strong in the Lord and walking right in God. Instead, what we see is a weakened church.
The Church needs to use the first-century Church as its model. The book of Acts says: “The Church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in THE FEAR OF THE LORD. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.” Acts 9:31 (NLT). And Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:13 (NIV).
The concept of ‘fear and trembling’ in connection with God is not popular. People prefer to hear about God’s love, long-suffering and mercy. God is love but this does not mean He is not to be feared. We tend to fear people more than we fear God, the Creator of us all. Jesus Himself said: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 (NIV). There is a fear of God that is required.
But what does it mean to fear the Lord? The word ‘fear’ normally brings a negative concept of being afraid to mind. This type of terrifying and paralysing fear does not produce good results and should not be associated with God. The Hebrew word for fear, ‘yirah’, used in the phrase “fear of the Lord”, means ‘to respect, to reverence’. This is a positive fear that persuades us to respond to God positively.
In our modern culture, we’ve lost this wholesome dread of displeasing God. We have got familiar – ‘chummy’ – with God almost to the point of being disrespectful. We compromise our faith for the sake of our friendships, more afraid of offending man than God. And when we have no fear of God, it moves us to sin.
Our culture impacts our relationship with the Lord and encourages us to continue in sin instead of fearing God. This is evident in the:
1. General lack of respect for authority – Children being disrespectful to parents and students beating teachers are examples seen in our society.
2. Dismissive attitude towards the Word of God – the Bible is no longer the yardstick that determines our conduct. It is about what I think is appropriate at any given time.
3. Unbalanced view of God – We view God as one of our friends or brethren, forgetting that He is a holy and righteous God who hates sin. “The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” Nahum 1:3 (NIV).
4. Casualness in worship and prayer – The reality of the majesty of God is no longer front and centre. “These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me …” Matthew 15:8 (NIV).
The Bible says in Proverbs 9:10 (NIV), “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … ” We need to cultivate and develop the fear of the Lord, a deep-seated reverence for God, which causes us to want to please Him at all costs. Having this awesome respect for God, understanding His greatness and His power has many benefits. So, join us next week as we discuss the benefits of fearing the Lord.